Recruit from Los Angeles :)
we have several good trade schools popping out gangs of technicians every month telling them they will be rich when they graduate.
some of these guy's rent bills are $1400 per month they have to cover for some dumpy apartment, meanwhile, most of the rinky-dink HVAC companies only offer temporary jobs. (even though they don't tell them that)
i'm sure there's tons of techs that would love to get the hell out of here.
the only thing is,
for every 2 years of experience they have, count that as 1 year.
make sure you give a technicial test.
you'd probably have to have them ride along with a senior tech, to see how a real company does business.
70% of that experience is driving a van and 20% is changing air filters. 5 hours of travel time per day in bumper to bumper traffic and only 2 or 3 hours per day on job sites.
An L.A. A/C tech with 5 years experience is equal to an A/C tech down south or Arizona with 1.5 years experience. The weather in L.A. is just too mild and a lot of places rarely use A/C or Heating except for 1-2 months per year. You're right about the high cost of living, most techs can only afford to live far from L.A. or in an old 1940's 600 sq.ft. apartment renting at $1200/mo.
So southern a/c techs don't need to drive to jobs at all, just teleport to work and do diagnostics and clever installs 8hrs a day and go back home to their 5000 sq ft trailer for $100/ month.
A tech's experience level is 100% of what he is willing to figure out what he is not familiar with.
Many do not progress beyond basic - bad component you need a new unit sir...
Southern a/c techs are in 90'F heat with 90% humidity, thay have a lot more oportunity to learn and they pull more hours.
"A tech's experience level is 100% of what he is willing to figure out what he is not familiar with."
Almost all experience in this trade comes from on the job training & from what kind of equipment a tech has on their accounts accounts, for example, if I don't have ammonia systems on my jobsite & I dont work with guys who do, I cant effectivly 'figure out' my way into experience.